I recently received my manuscript from my editor. Yes, though I am an editor, a published author and deemed a prolific writer, I practice what I teach my clients “Get your manuscript professionally edited.”
I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t matter what level of education you have, when you are too close to your work, you can miss the obvious. This was made more evident to me after receiving my manuscript. Though there were no major grammatical or punctuation errors, my editor made some superb suggestions. The book could probably work without them, but her recommendations served to strengthen and enhance the story, making the scenes more realistic and relatable. For that I’m grateful.
With this in mind, this article is about you taking responsibility to edit your manuscript.
A polished manuscript will stand you in good stead when you send it off to an agent, or better yet, if you are taking the self-publishing route.
However, though I advocate getting your manuscript professionally edited. It’s also your responsibility as a writer to edit your manuscript. Doing this serves two purposes: it will save you money when you hire an editor — editors either charge per word or per project — and you are able to check for clarity and fluency of your writing, which reinforces your understanding about the craft of writing.
That said, editing is not only about dotting the Is and crossing the Ts, watch out for overused and extraneous words such as that, and, but, had and other worthless words.
Check that your writing flows; ideas or events are strategically placed; points of views are consistent, the story and events is logical, and plot points are clear.
Don’t get attached to words. Many writers have all their characters use the same words. This can cause them to sound alike. Remember, your characters should have their own unique features. Further, if you have your characters perform the same action, for example, Sammy snickered, Jane snickered, Paul snickered; you risk boring your readers.
What about clichés? Avoid them like the plague (there’s a cliché for you). They do nothing but make your writing uninteresting. Naturally, there are exceptions to rules, so use only if it is meaningful to a character’s distinct persona.
To help you sharpen your editing skills, read, read and read. The more you read, the more you hone an intuitive sense of understanding of such things as rhythm and pace, style and tone, structure and flow etc.
© 2010 Cherry-Ann Carew
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Cherry-Ann Carew, The Power Writing Coach, Editor, Author and Founder of Writetastic Solutions, is a contributing author to How the Fierce Handle Fear – ‘Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times.’ Cherry-Ann helps writers with their creative expression to add value to their books. Learn how her coaching and editing services can help you with your book. Subscribe for your FREE SPECIAL REPORT: ‘Discover The 3 Simple Steps That Will Help You Start And Finish Your Book.